Thursday, July 26, 2007

Grasshoppers - Not in My Garden

Looking out my window at the incredible diversity of pollinators floating in an amorphous cloud around the deep Georgia O’Keefe pink Hollyhock blooms reminds me to be grateful for the gift of good healthy land – a land without grasshopper problems. It is not that I don’t have them around - the hum of life in the garden is composed of many sounds, and one of them is that of a grasshoppers’ chewing. But their damage is minimal, and their presence is hardly noticeable and our place is a little green island of few grasshoppers thanks to thirteen vigilant Guinea Fowl.

Noisy, untamed and funny looking bird, guineas have a preference for high protein foods – grasshoppers, caterpillars and larvae. The chicks hatch midsummer, and are available in feed stores. Guineas work great in the country side, where they patrol large territories without much regard to property boundaries. If there is a grasshopper to be consumed over a fence, the guineas will cross over and have a meal! Turkeys do much the same, except they are more prone to predation by dogs and coyotes, while guineas escape time after time with just some feathers ruffled. For urban dwellers - invite songbirds to your yard! These charming vegetarians feed their chicks exclusively protein-based diet, which means grasshopper-free gardening accompanied by a song of a bird.

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